In brief

In brief

  • As infrastructure providers add more general-purpose processors to keep pace with soaring computing demand, energy-related bottlenecks limit growth.
  • Moore's Law is approaching a peak, giving rise to the future of computing.
  • Infrastructure providers and their clients are increasingly turning to hardware accelerators to provide necessary computing power.
  • Business and IT leaders must consider the implications for future infrastructure and software decisions in four key areas.

As digital transformation accelerates, demand for computing power only gets bigger.

Businesses keep ramping up spending on infrastructure-as-a-service and related technology, but a major roadblock looms. Processing power, as dictated by Moore’s law, which drove the last five decades of chip development, is slowing; In the next decade, it’s expected to hit its limit.

We see the future of the enterprise computing infrastructure consisting of a diverse set of computational hardware tailored to specific applications and functions, such as artificial intelligence (AI), data transformation and security.

To create high-performing applications at the right cost, business and IT leaders must orchestrate the right computing workload across a range of evolving computing hardware.

Hardware accelerators create a tighter coupling with software, and that demands changes throughout the organization.

Hardware accelerators to the rescue

Increasingly, infrastructure providers and the companies they serve turn to hardware accelerators for the necessary computing power and speed at scale.

Traditional central processing units (CPU) were designed to run a wide range of tasks. However, for specific or repetitive functions, especially those that can be executed in parallel, hardware accelerators can help run the task more efficiently.

Among the range of hardware accelerators, the most common include the Graphics Processing Unit (GPU), Application Specific Integrated Circuits (ASIC) and Field Programmable Field Gate Arrays (FPGA).

As we near peak Moore’s law, the future of computing infrastructure will consist of a diverse set of hardware.

The future of computing infrastructure

As Moore’s law tops out, the move toward hardware accelerators is supplemented by active development on specialized computers to augment the general-purpose versions we use today.

Traditional, general-purpose computers will evolve toward working as orchestrators, directing specialized computers and accelerators to do specific tasks, as well as covering areas beyond those specific tasks.

A structure combining general-purpose and specialized hardware is already emerging. For example, 1Qbit provides an interface between traditional computers and quantum computers; in the process, the interface translates the business problem into a form that is recognizable by a quantum computer.

Hardware accelerators’ expanding role in IT

Amid escalating demand for AI, data transformation and secured applications, businesses increasingly turn to hardware accelerators for their unique ability to scale these functions.

Blurring lines between hardware and software

Growing hardware-software interdependency implies more software that can only run on specific hardware. Thus, the process of selecting hardware and software gets more complicated.

More fragmentation of cloud providers

More software will only be available in specific cloud infrastructures. Selecting the right cloud provider will be critical, as some companies may face limitations on use of certain software.

Services, processes and frameworks play key role

Many businesses will aim for easy orchestration of workloads and computing infrastructure through APIs, microservices and containerization. This will directly impact design of new software.

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Business implications and next steps

Historically, companies treated hardware and software as largely independent entities managed by disparate groups. But the future of computing will bring far-reaching change.

With hardware accelerators, the layer of separation between hardware and software is blurring, creating a tighter coupling between the two. This demands changes throughout the organization, and companies may need to work with more cloud providers to meet their software needs.

We see four key considerations for business and IT leaders:

  • Growing demand for AI, data transformation and secured applications has companies increasingly turning to hardware accelerators.
  • Software-defined hardware is blurring the line between hardware and software.
  • Cloud providers face more fragmentation or “balkanization,” due to increasing hardware-software dependency.
  • Services, processes and frameworks will play a key role in computing infrastructure for many large enterprises.

Paul Daugherty

Chief Technology and Innovation Officer – Accenture

Edy S. Liongosari

Chief Research Scientist – Accenture Labs

Pranav Kudesia

Tech Research Lead – Accenture Research


Technology vision 2021
Quantum computing now

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